Q. My dog is afraid of baths. How do I get him clean?
A. All dogs need a bath occasionally, even those with short or smooth coats. So sooner or later, your dog needs to get used to this procedure. It might help you to understand her reluctance if you put yourself in her place. How would you feel if you were suddenly plunked into the tub and hosed down? Or worse, sprayed with ice-cold water from the garden hose out in the backyard?
If your dog already has a fear of being bathed, try placing her in a tub with a few inches of warm water and gently wet her with your hands, talking gently to her while you work. Do this in a calm, quiet environment where you can give her your complete attention.
Begin lathering her from the rear end on up, praising her for being good. If she’s small and you can do this in the sink, try feeding a gentle spray of water into the coat to rinse. You may need to get creative about rinsing her face, using a soaking wet towel or face cloth instead of spraying. Bundle her up in a fluffy towel and pat her dry, then reward her with a tasty treat.
Some other helpful hints for washing a dog are:
- Ensure that your dog’s coat is completely mat-free before getting his coat wet. Mats tend to tighten and multiply when they get wet.
- Place a rubber mat on the bottom of the sink or tub to keep your dog from slipping.
- A hand-held massage attachment for a hose or sink nozzle, or the kind of travel attachment you take camping is gentler than a garden hose sprayer.
- Rinse thoroughly. Any soapy residue left in your dog’s coat will cause itching and dryness.
- This can be your little secret: Some dogs prefer to shower with their owners. Just don’t use your own shampoo on her. Human hair products can dry out your dog’s skin.